Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blingy Browband Wars

Ladies and gentlemen, the blingy browband wars are over.  And I am the uncontested winner.

Because this?  Is too subtle.

This?  Is not enough.

If you want to win the blingy browband wars, you have to bring something new.  Something exciting.  Something that requires a battery pack.

Yes, that is an LED browband.  My hubby made it for me.  It is fantastic and blinding and the blingiest thing ever seen.  It has four modes and can have a lot more, the hubby did the programming.  It is a limitless palette of colors and brightness.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Two trick pony

And just when I had everyone convinced we were going to stick to the dressage ring, we escaped to do a bit of jumping.  I did promise Theo that if he was a good boy, he would get to do some jumping at a show.  He definitely qualified as a good boy this season and I like to keep my promises.

Showing in fall does mean a certain amount of hair control.  With Theo, that means body clip number two for the season.  This time we went for a blanket clip.  Hopefully this will hold him for a month or so.  This pony sure knows how to grow hair.  I also did maintenance on his magnificent tail.  A local schooling show after going to Saugerties was incredibly laid back.  I chucked my stuff on the trailer, slapped in nine braids (left his forelock down), and called it show prep.  It was so laid back that my husband had to remind me to go to bed early since it didn't feel like I had a show.

This laid back attitude led to my best dressage performance all season.  27.9 from a recognized judge for our Beginner Novice B test.  Woohoo, dressage pony!  It was soft, willing, and calm.  The only real thing to make that judge happier would be more energy in the trot.  Well, yeah, but I'll probably see that every time Theo goes in a dressage ring.  We got a 9 for our final salute and the judge was beaming at us.  Basically, we had the ride I should have had in Saugerties.  Oh well, next time I'll try not to get stage fright.

As for the jumping?  My goodness did he try for me.  Doing Beginner Novice adds things like combinations and a lot more fill.  He went in with wide eyes.  There were jumps in the ring!  The green and red plank fence got the stink eye every time we went near it.  The first three jumped nicely, but when we turned to four he was so busy stink eye'ing that fence that he didn't see fence four (the combination) until we were on top of it.  We had a stop, but it was calm and very honest.  He just didn't see it until it was too late.  We circled around and he bombed through the two stride like a freight train, then managed the four stride bending line to a vertical where half of my class had a refusal.  When we finally got to fence 8, the green and red plank, he twisted through the whole approach.  He did not want!  But he jumped it on the first try.  We only had the one stop for four penalties.  Still good enough for second!

After my failed attempt at a selfie, I recruited help.

So very proud of my dressage pony.  I got up off his back and he dragged me to the fences.  He was so honest and willing, I couldn't ask for more.

Then I celebrated the start of my off season, aka the schooling show season.

Bring on the jumping!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall Festival Pic Spam

I got my pictures from Saugerties!

Theo has opinions on being a show horse.  Doesn't matter how fancy the setting.

Serious business dressage horse!

I might have been praying during this transition to canter, then right into a 15m circle.  On his sticky lead.  But we nailed it!

Job well done pats.

This actually has a story.  Theo was so chill heading out after his last test that I started flapping my reins and acting like I was pony kicking him to get him to walk faster.  Trainer A pointed at the photographer and said 'I hope you got my adult rider acting like that!'.  This is me cracking up when I realized people were actually watching us.  Theo is all about getting to Trainer A.  She has cookies.
 Theo and I's relationship in one picture.  I'm cracking up.  He sees cookies.

The last shot of the 2016 season.  Mi papi, Trainer A, and me heading back to the barn.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

And sometimes we jump

It's kind of important to practice at least once or twice before a show.  Or so people keep telling me.  And riding a jump course is a bit complicated, it takes some practice.  There's a lot going on when you've got to turn and jump them in sequence.  A specific sequence, they frown when you just make the course up.  Believe me, I've tried.  Did you know they have bells in jumping, too?  Or a buzzer.  But unlike dressage, you don't take an error and keep going.  Go off course, your ride is over.

It did dawn on me this week that I haven't jumped a course since . . . last year?  Just some grids and exercises to keep Theo happy as a dressage pony.  I haven't memorized and jumped a course since our three phase last year.  Yikes, that's a lot of rust.

Trainer A is a smart lady.

So today we found this when we went in the indoor.  We warmed up in the outdoor, then marched into the indoor.  One quick canter around and then right through the course.  Trainer A has never heard of a simple straight line in a course, by the way.  Lots of bending lines and short approaches off the wall.  One full fledged roll back.  The fences were all 2'6" or 2'9".  The two stride was set long and we did it in three, but it was an organized three that we rode with intent.  I knew on take off for the first fence that we weren't going to make the distance, so landed thinking 'short'.  After spending all of last winter mastering the short jumping canter, we fit three in quite neatly.

Keep in mind, the indoor is just a bit longer than a small dressage ring.  It's about 22 meters wide and about 50 meters long.

 There were some interesting features to check Theo's courage.  The white thing at the far end of the ring was a folding table set on it's side (propped on a rail so it would fall easily, totally safe).  That gave him something to look at.  Random blanket over fence 1 set the tone right out of the gate.  You can't see fence 3 in the photo, but she piled up the stands used with cavalletti underneath.  Trainer A also busted out the big wings for some fences which Theo and I have never used.  Those big lattice wings startled him when we came in the ring, so they did the job.  He was such a good boy and jumped everything, even if he cranked his head way up for some of it.

I've got to say, it's nice to be back in the jumping saddle.  All of that dressage work has made Theo a very rideable horse.  Turn on a dime?  Sure, no big deal.  Shorten it up?  No problem.  Engage?  Takes a little at the start, but we've got some engine now.  And he's so darn honest that I don't worry about the fences.  I'm back to jumping in a half seat between fences since he's learning to carry himself without my help.  And that big ol' booty can really plant and push.  When we did the course again, I pushed for the long two stride and got it.  He planted and went for the long distance so calmly, it wasn't a big effort for him.  I could see him strolling through a 3' hunter course without flicking an ear.

Assuming we could get him to have a consistent 12' stride, but Trainer A said that would be a good project for the winter.  We installed the short stride, now he needs a long stride.  The canter lengthen practice will help our First 3 and our jumping.

Saturday I'm going out early to do some supervised jump schooling to make sure Theo and I have our groove back enough to get around the course at our schooling show.  Should be a very stress free day.  Beginner Novice dressage and a 2'7" stadium course?  It's like a day at the beach.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Theo's wardrobe is outrageous.  No, really, it is.  And it keeps getting worse.

On Sunday I went out to ride in the pouring rain.  Yay, indoor!  So I pulled my shaggy, damp pony in and got him dried off.  His winter coat came right back after Saugerties, so most of the water just rolled off of him.  I gave him a good towel, then threw his cooler on to wick the rest away.

It's hard to be a show horse

Once dry, he was tacked and his rain sheet went on for the walk down.

Can't go wrong with a classic

Hey look, new saddle pad and browband!

Yes, this is my super fancy show yak horse.  Envy me.

It's ridiculous.  He has four browbands, who knows how many saddle pads (I guess 10), four sets of polos, two sets of boots, a full wardrobe of turn out blankets (heavy, medium, light, and neck rugs), fly sheet and masks, plus his Baker collection (cooler, antisweat, rainsheet, turnout sheet) for when he's going out in public and his big square cooler for the dead of winter.

The loft of my garage is dedicated to Theo's off season wardrobe, since Trainer R isn't interested in hosting that level of stuff.  As the seasons change, Theo's clothes get moved between my garage and the barn. Nothing says pampered pony like a car that reeks of dirty turnout blankets.

And this weekend he needs to be clipped again.  He looks like a goat.  Why do I live in New Hampshire and own a horse?  It's hard to remember as I look down the gauntlet of the cold season.  I pulled my thermals out of storage since it got down to 34* last night.  I'll be needing them for the barn soon.  Why do I have a show this weekend?

The look of a horse that has just realized the dressage tack is on for the first time in two weeks.  Back to work, papi!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Off season: Doin' it wrong

I fail at taking vacations and now I fail at the off season.

I mean, I've done some things right.  My horse is a hairy, hairy beast and his next clip (probably tomorrow) will be a trace clip.  He's been on the trails three times in the past week.  We have done one serious dressage school in the past week.  But as for having an off season?  Whoops.

On the 16th we're zipping out to a local two phase.  Three phase for most of the kids, but Theo and I are there to relax.  Getting around cross country is not relaxing for either of us.  We'll do the Beginner Novice dressage and show jumping.  It should be fun and get us some miles over fences with actual fill under them. Oh, scary!

It really has been this long since we jumped away from home

Then November 20th is an indoor H/J schooling show.  2'6" hunters and eq courses?  Sure, why not!  Good to diversify.  On November 27th is a dressage schooling show.  Might be a good idea to do one more run through of First 2 and 3 before we go into hibernation.  I probably won't even braid, wear my show apparel, or in any other way stress myself out.  My horse will be looking a bit like a goat, what's the point in trying to braid?  And with late November, it's going to be about doing the miles and getting back on the trailer.  Clinic attire seems more appropriate.  And easier to keep warm.

But Theo is a horse that does better with regular trips off the property to remind him that the world is a big place.  These are super small scale and casual.  Should be fun.  Next year looks to include some H/J outings, so might as well see if we can convince him to jump scary things on the first try.  I'm hopeful.  He's gotten very brave about things like liverpools, tarps, and traffic cones thrown in a random pile under a jump.  We've just never asked him to do any of that away from home.  It's always been plain rails.  Even when we moved up to 2'6" in a two phase, the show was only using plain rails.  Theo and I have never seen real fill at a show.

The king of plain rails.  And I hate this picture so much.  Thank goodness for a jump saddle and getting back into shape.

But he does love to jump things and can be quite brave once he knows what game is being played.  And with hunters/eq stuff, there's warm up courses!

My poor horse.  His mom is a workaholic.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Riding a Freestyle: Part 1

There was some curiosity on how I'm getting my music together for next year's freestyle.  So I'm going to do some updates as I go with how it's happening.

First step was to submit my video of my First 3 test to to get the tempos of Theo's gaits.  Here's what I got back:

walk - free walk is 53 and medium is pretty close to that.
trot - I see quite a bit of fluctuation in the trot from 74-78. I would be inclined to record at 76. You might get away with 75, but could only get away with 77 if you maintain the tempo in lateral work.
canter - Canter started a little slower, but stabilized at 99.

Okay, great, step one complete.  Step two is to pick out some pre-edited music, since I want to keep this as simple as possible for my first freestyle.

Theo's rhythms are on the fast side, so it cuts down on my selections.

This one is very close, but the trot only goes up to 75.  It will be a hair slow, and Theo's trot leans more toward 78 when he's powering along.  But I really like it and it suits him.

This one is also latin style, correct for his trot, and just a hair slow for the canter.

This one is too slow in the canter by a couple beats per minute, but I'm tempted to do it any way.  It's the Hunger Games!  Such epic entry music.

This one is only one beat too slow in the canter and would thrill my dad.  And I can't say that I dislike a bit of jazz, but it's kind of dull.   This one is the same, but with swing.  Both are rhythm appropriate, but don't really sell me as anything I'd be excited to use.

Phantom Menace is too fast in the trot and comes off frantic with him.  I was disappointed.

I'm currently thinking that I'll use either Tango in Ebony or Hunger Games.  Both appeal to me, sound good when I'm watching him go, and are very close to the rhythms he needs.  I wish I wasn't so picky on music.  I really can't get behind the instrumental version of a lot of popular music.

I'm open to suggestions on other pieces, I haven't listened to everything in his tempo range.  I've still got some time.